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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   13 July [1861]

2. Hesketh Crescent | Torquay

July 13th

My dear Hooker

I am glad to hear of Worthing & I hope it will do Mrs. Hooker good.—1 I hope Harvey is better:2 I got his Review of me a day or two ago,3 from which I infer he must be convalescent: it very good & fair: but it is funny to see a man argue on the succession of animals from Noahs Deluge; as God did not then wholly destroy man, probably he did not wholly destroy the races of other animals at each geological period!4 I never expected to have a helping hand from the Old Testament.

I have no suggestions for Mr. Salvin;5 but I heartily concur about St. Martha & once before urged some collectors to visit it.6 The alpine forms would be very interesting. Just say a word to him to attend to domestic animals & plants.— By the way if he talks the language, ask him as personal favour to me to enquire a little in the wilder regions whether any of the farmers take any pains in breeding from the better animals or such as strike their fancy. But I fear such information (& I have much) would come too late for me.—

I am got profoundly interested in Orchids & think I have made out homologies of the sticky so-called gland of the pollinia, & of the rostellum to each other clearly. Veitch & Co have never even answered my letter & I much fear I shall get nothing.7 If they would but say “no”, I would write elsewhere. I much want a Cattleyea or some one of the Epidendreæ, as I have examined a Humble-Bee with the pollinia of Cattlyea attached to its back.—8 Really the contrivances in Orchids beat, I think, any animal.

I am ashamed to say that I have not read Du Chaillu;9 for I have lost the art of reading & am either idle or writing

Farewell my dear Hooker. How I wish you were at this charming place | Adios.— C. Darwin

William is dissecting & drawing like mad.—10


The Hookers were apparently intending to visit Worthing, on the Sussex coast, in the hope that the seaside would benefit Frances Harriet Hooker, who was grieving over the recent death of her father John Stevens Henslow.
William Henry Harvey was suffering from a ‘hæmorrhage from the lungs’ (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 June [1861] and n. 3).
In his essay on the ‘natural evolution of organic species’, Harvey argued that it is ‘more probable that the living horse is a lineal descendant of some fossil horse, than that God first wholly destroyed one horse and then re-created from the dust a slightly improved horse.’ (Harvey 1861, p. 150). Harvey used the same argument for man, assuming the preservation of ‘the line of Adam’s posterity through Noah.’
Osbert Salvin was preparing to leave in the autumn of 1861 on a natural history expedition to Guatemala (DNB).
Santa Marta is a port city in northern Colombia, bordering on the Sierra Nevada de la Santa Marta mountain range.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, [6 July 1861]. The nursery of Veitch & Son of Chelsea specialised in orchids.
See letter to Frederick Smith, [19 June 1861]. Having examined almost all the genera of British orchids, CD was beginning to study various genera of foreign orchids to compare and contrast their various pollination mechanisms. For the results of CD’s study of the Epidendreae, see Orchids, pp. 159–66.
Having been interested in botany for a number of years, William Erasmus Darwin was currently studying the anatomy of plants by means of dissection. He had joined the Darwins in Torquay on 9 July 1861 (Emma Darwin’s diary). See letters to J. D. Hooker, 19 June [1861] and 22 June [1861]. Two of William’s botanical notebooks are in the Darwin Archive–CUL (DAR 117 and 234).


DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Du Chaillu, Paul Belloni. 1861. Explorations & adventures in equatorial Africa; with accounts of the manners and customs of the people, and of the chace of the gorilla, crocodile, leopard, elephant, hippopotamus, and other animals. 2d edition. London: John Murray.

Harvey, William Henry. 1861. On “omne vivum ab ovo”, or, the natural evolution of organic species considered. Dublin Hospital Gazette, 15 May 1861.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Has worked out homologies of orchids’ pollinia and rostellum.

On W. H. Harvey’s review ["The natural evolution of organic species considered", Dublin Hosp. Gaz. 8 (1861): 146–52].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 105
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3207,” accessed on 27 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9